A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison



Release date: January 24, 2017

Book Blurb from Amazon.com:
A beloved American corporation with an explosive secret. A disgraced former journalist looking for redemption. A corporate executive with nothing left to lose.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble, a bystander captures a heart-stopping photograph—a teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-story fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of America’s largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation.

Eight thousand miles away, at Presto’s headquarters in Virginia, Cameron Alexander, the company’s long-time general counsel, watches the media coverage of the fire in horror, wondering if the damage can be contained. When the photo goes viral, fanning the flames of a decades old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he launches an investigation into the disaster that will reach farther than he could ever imagine—and threaten everything he has left in the world.

A year later, in Washington, D.C., Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fire. For Griswold, the challenge of exposing Presto’s culpability is irresistible, as is the chance, however slight, at redemption. Deploying his old journalistic skills, he builds a historic case against Presto, setting the stage for a war in the courtroom and in the media that Griswold is determined to win—both to salvage his reputation and to provoke a revolution of conscience in Presto’s boardroom that could transform the fashion industry across the globe.

My Review:

A fire breaks out in a shoddy factory in Bangladesh that manufactures clothing. Back in the United States, a media storm is unleashed about the event yielding negative press for Presto Corporation whose labels appear in the photos. We meet Cameron Alexander, general counsel for Presto. Cameron’s job is to now perform damage control over the negative press and launch an investigation of the fire. Cameron needs to ensure that the company has airtight compliance over their global sourcing standards so that these occurrences do not happen again.

During his investigation, Cameron is faced with a morality issue. He is stuck between the need to support his company and his own sympathy for the victims. He finds that the corporate compliance set in place for the contracting of manufacturing goods at times are circumvented when the work is subcontracted out to other vendors. This practice has led to unsafe working conditions.

A journalist, Joshua Griswold, receives anonymous incriminating information about the Presto fire investigation. He tirelessly works on a lawsuit for the victims of the fire and at the same time is trying to build a name for himself.

The book is well written and alternates between Cameron and Joshua as they progress through the investigation. The novel is based upon the research the author did with survivors he met from a factory fire in Bangladesh. This book seriously made me think about the source of my family’s clothing.

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